Course Reflection

Writing Ideas/Strategies List:
– Use multiple sources for each argument or paragraph.
– Use counter arguments but address them.
– Back up your argument with quantifiable data.
– Use headings to clarify sub topics.
– Introduce the source.
– Organize the paper before you write.
– Always go to RWIT, in particular Emily.
– Constantly tie back evidence and arguments to the thesis.
– Have two or three people review your paper; it gets too hectic with anymore people.
– Use conclusions that connect to a larger picture, in addition to summing up the paper.
– Use transitions in between sentences.

       Using transitions between paragraphs was a writing strategy that I learned and developed throughout the course. In the beginning, my transitions were not only infrequent but also weak. For many of my writing early years, I focused on the content of the papers much more than how they flowed. I truly believed that if my evidence and argument were strong, that was all that mattered and would make me an effective writer. Consequently, a lot of my earlier writing had very little fluidity or good connections between paragraphs.
This theme of poor transitions can easily be seen in my extended essay for IB, which is a research paper I wrote before arriving at Dartmouth. Just in the introductory portion of my paper, I fail to transition from paragraph to paragraph consistently. Now that I read the paper again, the lack of good transitions makes it sound very clunky. Moreover, there are multiple instances throughout the paper, in which I simply omit transitions and replace them instead with a header. This is problematic because there is often a clear correlation between between each header which I did not explain clearly. In my extended essay, the first substantial section following the introduction is ‘Origins and Key Legislation of the California Teachers Association’ and is succeeded by ‘The Power of the California Teachers Association’. Although the readers can imply that these two ideas are connected because the origins and key legislation of the CTA logically lead to how a powerful CTA was formed, it would be much more effective if I explicitly demonstrated this connection by using a good transition.
       My inability to recognize how to implement transitions continued when I started this Writing 5 Course. This is evident in my project 1, which was a literature review of Film Piracy and Iran. Although Tony and Jayson did not explicitly call out my transitions in my workshop draft of this paper, many of their comments seemed to suggest that they were both very confused in how any of my paragraphs were related to each other. I very much agreed with both of their sentiments. Within this same project, my post workshop revision plan stated that I would try “to smooth out the transitions and main ideas”. I really did try my best to improve the transitions and connect ideas more efficiently; however, my inexperience with transitions showed. This is evident in Professor Mcintyre’s comments on the final draft of the project 1 paper, in which she asserted “In terms of connections among paragraphs and ideas, you’ve made some real improvements, though you miss a number of opportunities to connect individual paragraphs and sections to the larger purpose of the paper”. Although I was not absolutely content on my utilization of transitions, there was still some considerable progress made within this project.
       I was fairly content with how much I had improved my transitions in a relatively short time period, and I slowly but surely refined this skill as I started working on my second project. This time the paper was a case study of Jafar Panahi, an Iranian filmmaker who uses piracy for admirable reasons. Nonetheless, this paper was extremely hard to structure because the paper would optimally have both a sufficient background on Iran and an in-depth exploration of Panahi’s life to understand the necessity of film piracy in Iran. In order to keep a good balance between the case study and the history of Iran, I needed to use good transitions to allow readers to follow the paper without strain. The clarity was especially necessary since some of my arguments overlapped with the historical background. Although I initially struggled with the organization of the paper, which is shown in Tony’s comments on the workshop draft, once I sorted out the structure of the paper, I did not find it difficult to implementation transitions in the paper smoothly. This improvement is evident because there was essentially no negative feedback regarding my use of transitions in either the conference draft or the final draft. Although there were other problems with my second project in terms of writing, transitions took a backseat to what my central issues with writing were.
       Although the third project has had relatively low feedback, I believe I retained my skills of using transitions for not only the cover letter but also the definitional text. In my cover letter, I repeatedly reference the video’s use of other people’s copyrighted materials in my definition of fair use, which became an example of fair use. Although I do this multiple times in the cover letter and the transition seems repetitive, I hoped that this repeated transition would emphasize the importance of my thesis. Nevertheless, I aimed to demonstrate that I could now use employ transitions beyond its basic function of making the writing smoother.
       Ultimately this course reflection may be the best measure of how my transitions have improved or wilted throughout the course. Because this paper is the most recent writing that I have completed, I am confident that this paper demonstrates my increased experience and advances with transitions in this course.